Over the past 10 years I've had the pleasure to learn under multiple teaching styles and teach full time for the past 7-8ish years. I've seen students who learn straight from concepts, some straight through details and its very interesting to see and hear the thinking processes when it comes to Jiu Jitsu from both sides. I truly believe there is never one way to teach, but I do believe in a process at specific learning stages that should be approached.
I don't necessarily want to use "newer" students as the focus but more learning stages. What I mean by learning stages is this, you could be a very well experienced students but when learning a new technique/concept, you could be a complete white belt. Kind of like the new wave of leg lockers. A lot of us over the past couple years have just been exposed to the systematic way of attacking the legs that we are beginning to notice in competition so therefore we are considered "new". So lets begin. Concepts, details, concepts, it can also be done details, concepts, details depending on whats being taught, what age group and type of class we are learning in. I've noticed most of the time when teaching students who just began training, its best to give them the concept of a move, clean it up later with details, then give more concepts at the advanced level, meanwhile for experienced students, details can be done first as they can understand and view the whole picture easier and make proper assumptions of whats around that move, then concepts to get a creative mindset, then back to details to really tighten the nuts and bolts.
When a new student first comes in, lets take a child for example. The child has no picture of what a fight consists of. Try to think back to when you were 5 years old. I dont know about you, but I truly believed if I focused hard I could become a power ranger or a beetleborg and that I could Hadouken the bully. Giving the students details off the start can be one of the worse things because they do not understand. What I have found that works best is allow them to play with the concept of the move, example is passing guard or establishing under hooks on the feet. Giving them a game or drill to challenge them which teaches the concept and develops the actual combative part of training. Once they grasp the idea, you can point out 1 or 2 details and then let them play again. For adults I short of do the same. Adults are smarter and can take in more, but I've noticed that when you give details first instead of the concept/principles of the position then the student becomes very cookie cut. Later the student may develop the concept of the move naturally through training. Our goal as instructors is to turn every student into DYNAMIC PROBLEM SOLVERS. Once I heard this, it all began to make sense to me. There are so many positions, variables, little scenarios that we encounter in each and every move and trying to cookie cut the move I dont believe is a good idea. Now I do believe in cookie cutting the fundamental technique if framed in the right way for students to understand that creativity is going to always play a large roll and that as long as the principles of each move are still in play to some degree then it will still work and be effective.
When learning, especially complicated moves, I try myself to focus on the idea of the move rather than details. If it is completely new to me, I am looking for the "why". Why am I going this way and what does it do mechanically. Once I understand mechanically and conceptually, then I begin tightening the bolts with details. Put it this way, if you lock one person in one room and another in another. Both same person, but one learns the concepts of each move and one learns technique for technique, the conceptual player will be far more effective in a fight than the detailed player at an earlier level and the detailed player will not shine till far down the road as the conceptual player will stagnant his training if he doesnt get the details involved. One concept teaches 10 techniques, one techniques teaches 1 technique. I listened to a video recently that Ill post below that talks about this idea and he uses America vs Brazilians and how each learn. It was very interesting and I agree with the idea of it all. A lot of Americans are use to a corporate world where everything is 1, 2, 3, 4. All the way from elementary days to the work force. We've simplified the life and education. I dont believe in teaching 1, 2, 3, 4 necessarily, sometimes it can be beneficial, but explaining the idea/concept of the move, the "why" perhaps and then breaking it down in a 1 2 3 4 fashion for drilling purposes.
I've noticed once hitting purple that it's no longer about what I know technique wise, but how I apply each technique, and the psychological way of using the move. Can you disguise your technique as one and expose it as another to trick your opponent. I had to begin learning deeper into the technique. Truly trying to find the "why" and "how" of every move. Focusing on the mechanics of every move. Once I began teaching the mechanics of each move and concepts of the moves I noticed the students begin sky rocketing in performance and even doing other techniques I've never taught but they just figured it out on their own. In other words, they are now beginning to think for themselves. While the students that are focused on 1, 2, 3, 4, have trouble breaking the way of thinking cookie cut and into a dynamic problem solver. They seem to always want the technique for dealing with every little problem they run into, whereas the student who understands the concepts can solve these problems or better yet, wouldnt run into those problems as often. Example when passing the guard, the head is extremely valuable and Danaher just talked about this. It's the furthest lever of the body and a lot lighter than its other parts. When passing guard, lets say a "knee cut pass", a lot of students run into the issue of knee frames. Once you clear the knee frame with a shin cut pass, simply cutting around instead of through, you begin the scrambling process of passing. If you are able to gather the head, then the knee frames are almost nearly impossible to be used and effective because the body cannot extend away from your leverage by controlling the head and keeping it close.
Jiu Jitsu is very simple, yet extremely complex. When learning something so complex, yet so simple we need to focus on the general concept/principles of each position/submission rather than learning thousands of techniques and trying to apply each and every one at every small scenario. Allow the techniques you learn to spark a bit of creativity and play.
Should those who instruct or pass knowledge have to have experience with fighting, competition or titles? This is an interesting topic I've seen have always wanted to share my thoughts, so here we go. Over the years I've seen people debating this. My question is this, look at the majority of NFL and other coaches, why are nearly none of them professional athletes themselves? There's a giant difference between those who can compete/perform and those who can articulate. And even those who can articulate to adults to kids ages 5 to kids ages 10. Teaching is a skill in its own and its not just repeating what you do. A good instructor will be able to explain something multiple different ways. A good instructor will be able to run a class and running a class is done on multiple tiers. Some can run a class of 10 but cannot run a class of 20. Some can run a class of 20 but cannot run a class of 100. I've seen some of the best competitors out there instruct and its quite cringe worthy. The breakdown and explanation of whats taking place requires skill of its own. A prime example is who I believe to be one of the best instructors on the planet, John Danaher. When you think of the greatest competitors of his time, he is not necessarily one of them. Should he coach? If you have ever had the chance to learn from John or watch his videos, the way he breaks things down is so intellectual and allows you to understand the mechanics and concepts of the technique. Now I have not personally had the pleasure of seeing him run a kids class so I dont want to voice something on that, but teaching kids is an entire different level. Competitors spend hours and hours developing their timing, technique and understanding of the game while teachers are spending their time focusing on articulating whats happening and identifying the common mistakes their students will make before they even make it.
What I've noticed as well is some schools believe that advertising they have "world champions" or stating the instructors titles and credentials in their lead generating ads. I've even seen a lead generating ad that was using the terminology we use on the mats and I find it funny. No one coming off the street is looking for world champions, could care less about titles or how many fights you've been in and everyone who doesnt train has no idea what de la riva is. I've been teaching Jiu Jitsu for the past 8-9 years and currently teach and manage one of the most successful academies on the east coast called Rising Tide Academy in Maryland. People come in because of a pain they have. That pain could be a number of things, weight loss, self defense, confidence etc. For adults, the number one reason is fitness, second is self defense curiosity/confidence, and third is a hobby, or a "thing". When coming in, they want to find the solution to their pain, if you can offer the solution to their pain, they like the environment/community, the class is fun and the money lines up with the value then the student will sign up. None of this has to do with medals or titles and quite frankly, declaring your credentials like titles and such comes across as ego to me. Now who does care about titles? Students currently training. If thats your market, then go ahead but I find that to be a very very slim market. The truth is Jiu Jitsu students make up probably less than 1% of the population, why fish for 1% when you could hit the 99%? It's not about yourself and about the customer. What I am getting at is people's pain is not "I've always wanted to learn Jiu Jitsu from a world champion", those may people who currently train and again, thats the 1%. Market towards the people who "I need to lose 30lbs but hate the treadmill" or "I'm a police officer and need self defense" or "My child is lacking confidence, what can I do?" people.
So because you are a good competitor, does that mean you can teach? 100% NOT. I'm 100% positive I can teach and run a better class than the majority of the instructors along the east coast, can I beat them in a match or fight? Absolutely not. But I can sure as hell articulate how to do something and run a structured class thatll be engaging, attention grabbing, make you sweat, laugh and have fun to students of all ages no matter the skill, or amount of students in class.
You ever get tired of training? Feel like you aren't getting better? Not sure your...."Why"?
Blue belts blues is something that hits hard, and it hits at nearly every belt level. What is the blue belt blues? It's when you feel unmotivated to train anymore, you feel like your growth has stagnated. This is why most people quit training around blue belt. What's the psychology behind this?
Here's my thoughts, when you first start training everything is new and exciting. You come to class and have no idea how to escape the mount, and then BOOM, you are introduced to an elbow escape or trap and roll. We as humans absolutely love solving problems. Jiu Jitsu offers this on so many levels and is why it's so intriguing. But as time goes on, classes slowly begin to become repetitive. You find yourself going over the same techniques and you feel you already know them or you simply do not want to go over that topic. Or what you need to work on is not whats being taught in class, or the technique your instructor shows you just simply does not work for you yet. Maybe your friends who use to motivate you moved gyms, moved away or quit themselves. Around blue belt, students begin to experience this the most. When I talk to my students, I compare it to "grass growing". You know the grass is growing but you cannot see it. It's boring to watch. I've always been told only 50% of Jiu Jitsu can be taught. Now what does that mean? An instructor can show you 100% of Jiu Jitsu, but 50% of the learning process comes from you absorbing it, trying it, and failing with it. But we all know this.
So how do you combat Blue belt blues? I could go the route of "shut up and train" some goofy motto like "Only the weak quit!". Now, some of this stuff is true, it doesn't combat the actual issue at hand. I really like the "When motivation fails, discipline takes over". Sometimes you don't feel like taking a shower, but you do it anyways. But again, this doesn't solve the actual issue. So here is what I try to do, I approach this issue with a mentality side and physicality side. First lets start with the mental. Aside from the quotes at the top, I try to think about why I started. What kind of mindset did I have coming into training and what was my purpose at the time. Have things changed? For example, I use to compete all the time and this kept me training hard but as time went on my focus left competition and became more of a career path approach since I run a school and realized that eventually Ill be getting older and competition is just not going to pay my bills. I went through a strong moment of blue belt blues at the purple belt/brown belt level as I was trying to figure out my "why". What keeps my going the most is the therapeutic side of training. The emotional control Jiu Jitsu teaches me, the stress reliever and of course the workout. I also began thinking where I will be 3-5 years from now. This mindset is something I developed, not from Jiu Jitsu, but the business side of things and just in general achieving goals. Most younger people are thinking for the weekend, whereas successful people are thinking 3-10 years ahead.
Now on with the physicality portion. Jiu Jitsu has to be fun or we would never do it. When you start, the "fun" part is completing a new move or learning something different. As time goes on, these become dull. So we have to find new ways to have fun. My mindset was "winning" to now "developing". What I mean by that is, no longer am I looking at "major" victories like submitting someone, or sweeping someone, but letting someone take my back and seeing what can happen. How long can I stop someone from choking me and how close can I let them get. Instead of passing the open guard all the time, Ill just put myself in the close guard and play. Now you will lose way more often this way, but remember, my goal isnt to win its to develop. This is an investment mindset, adding this type of training at least once a week, if not more, will make me very dangerous in the next 3-5 years because Ill be very familiar with the defenses and areas that most people lack because people have a hard time leaving the mindset of "winning" to "developing". I went through a little period of even trying to arrest my training partners. Could I get both their hands behind their back. The goal is to find success in little areas, and care less. The "success" part is what gets the chemical pumping in the brain to fulfill enjoyment.
On top of all of this, I have a strange sense of motivation knowing some people cannot get themselves motivated to come to class. I feed off of this and you should too. Every day you go to class, you did something to improve yourself. You have one body, you do not get another one. Invest in it, become skillful, become educated, take care of it and enjoy life. Find your "why". Do you want to do this for a living one day, do you want to be prepared for self defense and gain confidence to improve all other areas of your life, do you want to be more physically fit, or how about emotionally stable. These are all bi-products to Jiu Jitsu, but it is up to you to discover your "why".
Last thing, take a deep hard look at yourself and your friends around you. I truly believe that you become who you spend your time with. If your friends do not train and aren't doing anything productive or aren't supportive, then you will have trouble achieving your goals through Jiu Jitsu. If you don't have those motivating people in your life, go on YouTube right now and type in "Motivational speeches". Listen to it on your ride to the gym and home. Use this to fill your brain with a new mindset so you can achieve ANY goal you ever put your mind to.
Watch this video. Become GOAL oriented to stay motivated. If you aren't staying goal oriented, you will quit.
This has got to be the biggest and most annoying debate within the Jiu Jitsu community. Let me start by telling you my experience. I am currently a brown belt, I started out training under the Renzo affiliation and earned my purple belt through Rocky Marcantoni, a Renzo black belt. I moved to another school which is a Relson affiliate and earned my brown and eventually will receive my black belt through Relson. My first school was a sport environment, we never once talked about self defense, we just trained. The current school I am at is self defense heavy. Now before I begin, I am going to start with this, I train primarily for therapeutic reasons, self defense is a bi-product for me. I enjoy the sport side almost more than the self defense side, but I completely understand the need for self defense and this is why I learn it.
Lets begin with this, is wrestling classified as a self defense? How about football? I dont believe either of them at classified as self defense because they never talk about real fights or real situations and how to deal with them. Could a wrestler or football player be better off in a fight than someone who has done nothing and knows nothing? I believe so. Wrestlers have always been the toughest kids in schools. Everyone knows you dont pick fights with wrestlers. This is my thought and comparison when it comes to sport and self defense. Sport Jiu Jitsu is what it is, a sport. Still effective in a fight for people who continue to train for a long time, and are athletic, strong, fast. Self defense Jiu Jitsu is Jiu Jitsu with the emphasis of self defense. Talking about real scenarios, common attacks an untrained opponent may do etc.
Now there should only be "Jiu Jitsu" not sport, not self defense, just Jiu Jitsu. We shouldnt differentiate the two. Unfortunately, we now have to because some schools never talk about real scenarios, or how to deal with common attacks, or even simply just the punch defense. This leaves the students to put a lot of trust in their instructors that if a fight were to happen one day, they would be okay. Self defense schools do the opposite, they put gloves on, they talk about fights, they teach how to deal with, deescalate situations, how to get back to the feet etc.
Does this mean self defense schools are more superior? No, neither is a sport school. To defend the sports schools, I've seen self defense students and schools that never teach how to pass the guard, hold position properly, submit properly and its the most watered down crap Jiu Jitsu in the world. At that point, I would rather you just train sport because you will be better off in a fight. Ive seen schools where its turned into a "kata" type training like some Karate schools and the students almost never roll, and when they do its the ugliest thing alive. Now I've also seen schools where they teach sport and when gloves get put on people dont understand proper posture control, distance management etc.
Sport Jiu Jitsu teaches you a lot about how the body does and does not want to move, but does not teach you self defense. Again, can sport jiu jitsu be effective in a fight, yes, but its not self defense. Students who are police officers, military personnel, sexual assault victims, children who are bullied all need to learn how to deescalate a fight, and whats expected. Especially children. Children have no idea what a real fight is, they think they can jump off the top ropes and knock you out, do perform some flying drop kick they saw on a Power Rangers show. Informing them how an untrained person may attack them, headlocks, punches, rear chokes, bear hugs, tackles, guillotines, are important to the development of a childs growth, especially towards bullying and self defense. Teaching kids spider guard and x guard at age 5-10 will only benefit the 1% that can actually comprehend it. They need basic mount and guard retention, simple and effective techniques. This is why teaching and developing children and adults are completely different. When I teach an armlock or a double leg to an adult, its very different, and when I mean different I mean simplified with tons of details left out on purpose so the kids can understand the concept and idea behind the move. The details can come as they grow, as they get better you as the instructor have to tighten the bolts for both adults and kids.
The main difference between self defense and sport in my eyes is the mindset, and distance management. Proper mindset for what if they have a buddy, what if you are on concrete, what if they have a weapon like their car keys, or the fact that anyone losing a fight will fight dirty, and the techniques on how to properly execute and defend these attacks as well as learning how to manage your distance and what exactly is distance management in a fight.
The people who discredit the other side are usually people who have never been in both shoes or who experience the wrong side of the other side. Example politics, if you only run into crazy right wing or left wing people, you may think they are all crazy. When in reality, I have plenty of friends on the other side of politics that are good people that just have a different way about doing things. At the end of the day we all want the same thing.
Like I said before, there should never be "sport" or "self defense" Jiu Jitsu, just Jiu Jitsu. The reason is has split is because the self defense part was lost and left out as time went on. I truly believe you should know both. Learn how to properly pass the guard, learn how to properly sweep or submit or escape against both a trained and untrained opponent. The more you start to learn the more you see the bigger picture and how much it is all connected yet separated. Everyone has different reasons to train Jiu Jitsu and you have to respect that someones purpose for training is different than yours. This doesnt mean you exile them, you just train Jiu Jitsu and make slight adjustments. I dont roll with the 50 year old who has a curiosity for self defense the same way I do with the 20 year old who wants fitness and compete. And if you ever plan on opening your own academy, and teaching Jiu Jitsu, learning the self defense side as well as the sport side is very crucial to the growth and development of your school. It only brings more knowledge and value to your program.
What exactly makes someone qualify for a promotion in Jiu Jitsu. Plenty of schools have their own criteria, but what are some of the few requirements that should be general. I've had this discussion with hundreds of people and its interesting hearing others thoughts. Does winning a tournament mean you are ready for promotion? How about being able to demonstrate set technique? What about grappling better in the academy? Would you also count "time" as a need for promotion?
I've been teaching for about 8 years now and from my own personal experience of wanting to be promoted to the students I teach and the parents of students, this is a very difficult situation for instructors. Mainly because this, no one likes being told what they are not good at, or that they are not ready, which then gets interpreted as "Not good enough", or a parent hearing that about their child. One of the toughest things to do that I've found is reflecting on ones self, and speaking the truth about others on where they need to improve on. These are things many people fail to do for various reasons. So lets talk about some of the questions asked above.
"I am winning tournaments at my belt level and should be promoted". This is the same category as "I am performing well against the higher belts in my academy and should be promoted" situation as well. I truly do not believe winning a tournament means you are ready for promotion. For example, take Olympic level Jordan Burroughs who is technically a white belt in Jiu Jitsu. Put him in many blue and purple belt divisions and he will do quite fine. Does that mean he deserves a higher belt? My opinion, no. He's not winning off Jiu Jitsu, just wrestling. Jiu Jitsu is an art that we are trying to master. It's not the art of grappling. Art of grappling is not Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu is a style of grappling where one is using technique, leverage, and the lease about of strength in order to defeat their opponent. I've seen tons of guys who are large tap people would or escape a position/submission using explosiveness, strength or speed, and while they are succeeding in the grappling portion of training, they are not using Jiu Jitsu. People tend to base their success and their skill level on those they roll with. Especially at the lower levels. Think about this, Floyd Mayweather, put him in any Karate school and have him spar with anyone. Who is going to win? 99.9% of the time, Floyd will. Does that mean Floyd gets a black belt in Karate? No, he isnt using Karate, just boxing. Performing well in a tournament does say a lot about your level but should not be a major deciding factor in promotions. In a tournament, game plan, athletic ability, and conditioning play a major role. As well as simply just mismatches. Someones style could work best against someone elses.
Demonstrating technique? Having a set number of techniques you need to demonstrate, does this count? I do not believe so. Though, it may play a factor, it cannot be the sole choice. Some schools do testing and some schools do not. Will testing your students be the deciding factor on how well your students become? Either you teach good Jiu Jitsu or you don't. Demonstrating set techniques just means that you are preserving the systems/techniques your instructors want to be preserved. Someone could pass the test but have no actual application of the techniques, just like someone could graduate school with a degree and be book smart but still be horrible at their job.
Time? "I've been here for a long time, I am due my promotion". This one bothers me the most. Time is never a factor and should never be a factor in promotion. Age, yes but time? Everyone learns different and as you start to become a higher belt, the instructors want to make sure the students are being developed properly. We would be doing a disservice to our students if we promoted because you simply just show up. This is what participation trophies are and they do not benefit anyone, especially a child that is being developed.
I truly believe there isn't one way to properly promote students, but I feel the most effective way is to have a structured test to preserve specific techniques/systems, and live rolling. This also cannot just be it, the instructor needs to be invested in their students especially as they are getting ready for promotion to see holes in their game and develop them properly. Some schools are against "testing" or a card attendance system for promotion and I believe this is because A, they dont understand it and think people are just being promoted based of demonstrations or "Katas" and B, their schools are much smaller. It's easier in a smaller academy to know all your students and develop them properly. It's still 100% doable in larger academies, but requires a different technique and system to do so. This is also where testing becomes more valuable.
Jiu Jitsu teaches you so much. Not only are you learning self defense, but you are learning things like perseverance, emotional control, physical balance and control, critical thinking and much more. When you want to be promoted but do not get promoted it sucks, but it teaches you so much and though you may be upset and feel negativity, it actually is very beneficial. Here's a short story, when I was a purple belt I was tapping the majority of brown belts I rolled with. I felt I shouldve been promoted. I saw guys I know I could beat and know more than get promoted and that made me jealous. I was told I was getting my brown belt at a seminar and bought a nice belt online for when I get promoted. I was told right before promotions that I wasn't getting promoted and that Relson would promote me in a few months. This upsetted me so much and I was mad at everyone else but myself. When confronted by the owner of the academy and a mentor of mine, I was told that I would then test next week in front of one of our black belts. I had to know the self defense and I didnt know really any of it. I came from a different affiliation where the self defense was not taught. This then forced me to learn the self defense over the next couple months properly so I could pass my test for brown. Moral of the story, I refused to self reflect and when forced to, it helped me grow so much as a person. Not only that, but not I became more valuable as an instructor because of the knowledge.
Everyone wants to get better at Jiu Jitsu, everyone wants to improve, but few understand what it takes to get better. I truly believe there is not one way to get better, but a few things that will always be required. Most people who train Jiu Jitsu do this, they show up, they train, then go home. At the early level in Jiu Jitsu, meaning white and early blue belt, thats okay. In a way. At that level you are still learning the game and trying to specifically learn one thing can steer you away from actually learning what you should be learning. At the lower levels of Jiu Jitsu you should be learning proper mat etiquette, escaping positions, and the general concepts of what can be done and the overall goal. The hunt should be to find what Jiu Jitsu is suppose to feel like. Smooth effortless, minimum strength, structures and frames.
At some point in Jiu Jitsu, you need to stop being reactive and have a goal. Rolling with a purpose. What I mean is, at the lower ranks you only identify submissions when the opponent is giving you an indicator. And thats fine, but as you become better, you find ways to force your opponent to give you what you want. Now I dont like using "force" because people attach that with strength, but I mean setting up specific moves like a Kimura, Armlock or back take using proper Jiu Jitsu, not strength. This is a mini exercise I do with my students. I ask them, how do you escape the mount? They immediately respond. Then I ask, how do you escape side control? They again, immediately respond. Then I ask, how do you submit from side control? Every student begins thinking. After a few seconds I interrupt and say this "See the issue is if you have to think of what to do, then you are going to be losing.". When you start in Jiu Jitsu, all you can do is defend and escape, but once you start attacking we have so many options. You need to start picking one attack and discover multiple ways to get to that attack. Now which attack do you choose? I believe in choosing the attack that has options. Options meaning, if the move fails, what else can I transition to smoothly.
I look for these few things when I am learning/developing systems in Jiu Jitsu.
- Options (Options to transition to another attack/postition)
- Risk factor (How risky is the move for the given situation. If they escape, will I be in trouble)
- Percentage (High percentage or low percentage? and are my options high percentage or low percentage?)
This is why I am a huge fan of using the Kimura. The Kimura itself can be a tough submission to finish as its easy to protect from it, but the options off the Kimura and the ability to grab the Kimura from many different transition positions is what makes the Kimura highly effective. All of the students I teach at blue or higher I introduce the Kimura system to them. There are plenty of different systems out there and you can also develop your own system, or at least add a little flavor to them. When I get to side control and I am attacking with a purpose, I look for the Kimura.
Now, every day you cannot train the same. You cannot come in and train hard every day, you cannot come in and play defense every day. I mean, you can. But you aren't going to be developed as fast as you could be. You need specific mindsets and training days. You need days you come in and go hard, not rough, but hard. Meaning you are training with a purpose to pass and submit. Usually these days, its you working on your game plan. When push comes to shove, you go to your game plan.
Then there are days you are in development mode, this means you are developing a new system, or working on a specific attack like, lets say the Omoplata. On these days you will be focusing on one specific attack. Once the Omoplata is developed, then you need to start building a system for it. Where can I transition to off the Omoplata. How many set ups do I have to get to the Omoplata. Then once the Omoplata and its systems are developed, the Omoplata can be one of your "Go hard days". You don't go hard if you havent developed a move. It's too much of an injury risk factor for you and your partner, and youll be using tons of strength to set things up and get frustrated when things dont work.
Then there are defense days. This explains itself, you are here to learn how to escape. Not with strength, but with Jiu Jitsu. This is where 99% of people fail. People dont like getting tapped, people dont like the lower belts seeing them lose or get beat. Get over it. Put yourself in an armlock and learn how to not get tapped with your arm fully extended. Now this type of training requires a tremendous amount of trust in your training partners. I will NEVER train like this with newer students. They know nothing and are wreckless. Its not their fault, they are just new. With the lower belts, dont crush them. Use basic, fundamental Jiu Jitsu, self defense mindset. Again, they are new. Headlocks, grabbing fingers sometimes, very rough. Expect it, and play against it properly. Now back to the defense mode. Once you develop a strong and confident defense, your offense and fluidity becomes very effective. One of the main reasons students are rough and stiff is because their escapes suck and they are worried to be put in a bad situation.
Now all of these types of training days require a specific mindset. You cant just come in and see your partner as an opponent. You arent in competition with your partner but in competition with yourself and your mind. You are in competition with your own Jiu Jitsu. Lately I've been putting my self in my Fiancees armlocks. Nicole is very good at armlocks and Ive been tapped a thousand times hanging out there. But now, Ive started to feel this little angle in which I can place my arm/body where she has had my arm fully extended and having trouble finishing it. It's made my hitch hiker escapes more effective and even though she gets frustrated trying to armlock me, itll develop her armlocks to be better and then Ill have to adapt again.
You need three people in your Jiu Jitsu training. You need people who are better than you to crush you, people at the same level to have a competitive roll, and people below you to work on techniques. Coming in every day trying to beat everyone for your own ego will only hinder your training. Also, think about the investment in other students. Ive had plenty of students that were once white belts I could do anything to, to now being go to training partners because of the investment mindset of coaching and playing with the lower belts. The more they work on their armlocks with you, the better your escapes will be and the more their armlocks will get better. In the long run, they become tougher students because of the development mindset you have when you roll with them.
Hey! My name is Stephen Miller and I am currently a Brown belt under Relson Gracie, training at Gracie Maryland (www.RealJiuJitsu.com)